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Potbelly warms up an IPO: Reuters
Posted on Monday, 05 November 2012 09:33
Potbelly Sandwich, the US handmade milkshakes and food chain backed by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, is laying the groundwork for an initial public offering (IPO) next year, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Details regarding the mooted market debut are thin on the ground but the people, who declined to be identified as the discussions are not yet public, revealed the Illinois-headquartered company has hired Goldman Sachs and Bank of America to lead the flotation.

All of the named principal players involved in the rumoured IPO declined or were not able to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Potbelly has an interesting background; it started out as an antique shop in 1977 and, while it was doing well, the couple who opened the store soon realised they could entice more customers through the doors if they started offering lunch to their customers.

Before they knew it, the antique business fell by the wayside and the store became a lunchtime getaway serving toasted sandwiches, homemade desserts and live music.

However, it took Bryant Keil to turn the company into what it is today. He bought the original shop on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago in 1996 and started spreading out the branded concept across the US.

Potbelly is now a chain of more than 260 stores serving neighbourhoods in 17 states, selling its trademark sandwich called a Wreck, which includes black Angus roast beef, old world salami, oven roasted turkey breast, hickory smoked ham and Swiss cheese.

The company has outlets in Arizona, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, and Wisconsin, among others, and has franchises in Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky and Ohio. It also has a presence in the Middle East.

Potbelly is unlike Subway or Quiznos, which have that fast-food, almost plastic impression. Instead, the company’s outlets have a funky, antique-filled interior with an old fashioned feel – centred on each store’s potbelly stove – and local musicians are employed and encouraged to play during lunch to provide a lively background.

American Securities invested in the firm in February 2006 while Starbucks’ founder Howard Schultz pumped money into the sandwich chain in 2001 through his venture capital arm Maveron.

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